Batman: Death of the Family, Volume 3
by Scott Snyder, Art by Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion (2013)
The Joker makes his horrifying return to Gotham City in this epic that shook Batman to his core! But even for a man who’s committed a lifetime of murder, he’s more dangerous than ever before. How can Batman protect his city and those he’s closest to?
Graphic Novel Review
This is the darkest and most psychotic Joker I’ve read to date, with psychological torture that hits Bruce Wayne and the entire Batman family of good guys where they live. Joker is playing the most deadly game yet and he’s targeting Batman’s allies: Alfred, Jim Gordon, Nightwing, Batgirl, Damien, and more.
The depth of the Batman universe is used well, with callbacks to significant events and strong appearances from allies. Other villains are limited to the most recognizable, with Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face playing parts. An encyclopedic knowledge of the Batman universe isn’t required, but it helps to have more than a passing familiarity with the major arcs, especially for Batman’s allies.
I loved this for the well done dialogue and the intimacy of Joker and Batman’s endless dance. It will be considered a classic, I’m sure.
Recommended for fans of:
* the Batman family of allies and enemies
* Joker: more psychotic and disturbing than ever
* superhero arcs with high stakes and high consequences
How this fits into the series
This comic is part of a larger arc, but was recommended as a great comic that can stand alone if you’re already familiar with the major Batman storylines. (I ask comics gurus for recommendations whenever I have the chance.) I read this story without reading the other volumes, and followed the story just fine.
Joker captures other members of the Batman family in this comic. Most are superheroes in their own right, so there are crossover issues in the other runs as Joker intervenes and brings them into the main story arc. That’s why there are Death of the Family volumes of Batgirl, Batman & Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing, and Suicide Squad. However, it’s not necessary to read all the crossover bits to know what’s going on. (I have not read them.)
Most confusingly, there’s an entirely different Batman story with a very similar title: Death IN the Family (1988). The title is actually a reference to this earlier story, a Batman classic. Both comics deal with Joker coming after Batman’s closest allies.